Hanson’s stadium pressure
POLITICIANS are divided over which of the rival Rockhampton stadium proposals to support.
On one side Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke has worked hard to deliver the Browne Park Stadium and on the other, One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson is backing the rival bid for the Rocky Stadium proposed to be built at Victoria Park.
During a visit to Rockhampton late last month, Ms Hanson met with representatives of the Rocky Sports Club and announced plans to make representations to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, seeking $23 million for the Victoria Park stadium.
Senator Hanson planned to use One Nation’s shared balance of power role in the Senate to leverage the government into funding the Rocky Stadium, which would host 16,000 patrons and attract national and international sporting and entertainment events.
“(Rocky Stadium) will increase entertainment here, sporting venues, and it will really benefit the town,” Senator Hanson said.
“It’s close for walking into town, the size of the development, all the sport that goes on is contained in the one area. I think it’s a prime location for it.”
As the resources sector continued to grow, leading to an increase in population in Rockhampton and greater Central Queensland, she said it was important to build infrastructure to support families and the local economy.
She opposed the Browne Park stadium bid saying the cost was excessive, there was a parking shortage, it was too close to residential housing and lacked the space for future growth.
Mr Cormann said he regularly received representations from local MPs and senators in support of potential local infrastructure projects.
“Ultimately local infrastructure choices of this nature require a local consensus as the basis for co-operation between all levels of government, including local and state governments,” Mr Cormann said.
“As the federal government, our judgments in relation to the prioritisation of funding allocations are always based on what is affordable and what is appropriately supported by the local community as an investment which is genuinely in the public interest.”
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry welcomed plans for the construction of a sports stadium in Rockhampton, regardless of whether it was built at Browne Park, Victoria Park or any other site.
“A process must be followed before construction begins including proper community consultation,” Ms Landry said.
“As with any other major infrastructure project, there needs to be a distinct need for it and it must be able to stack up financially.”
While she hadn’t been contacted by Senator Hanson, Ms Landry said her door was always open.
Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke dismissed Senator Hanson’s push for the Rocky Stadium saying it proved she knew nothing about Rockhampton.
“Everyone knows it would be utter madness to build a stadium on a natural water course at Victoria Park. It has a long history of flooding,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“Pauline has wedged herself. She went to the election promising a stadium on top of a former dump site. Now she’s too recalcitrant to admit she was wrong.”
During her Rockhampton visit in late July, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Browne Park stadium project had her support and promised to have Cabinet to consider it before the end of the year.
It is understood a decision would be made on whether to pursue the project and how it would be funded, with the results of the feasibility study to consequently be made public.
A state government spokesperson said an application to the Northern Australia Infrsatructure Facility was a possible option.
Management of the Browne Park Trust were approached for comment.